October 7, 2011: In Derek Carr’s first year as starting quarterback at Fresno State, the Bulldogs are stifled by the Boise State defense in a 57-7 rout.The Broncos, whose offense wasn’t too shabby, either, led 37-0 at halftime before a restless Bulldog Stadium crowd in what turned out to be coach Pat Hill’s final season. Carr’s night of frustration produced only 126 yards passing on 30 attempts (4.2 yards per throw). Fresno State’s only points came on a punt return for a touchdown. The Broncos’ Kellen Moore, meanwhile, was lights-out again, throwing for 254 yards and three touchdowns.
Boise State lugged the Milk Can to Fresno—then they lugged it back home again—waiting for the engraver. That the Broncos would be focused in the rivalry game was evident from the first possession, which the Broncos gave to the Bulldogs after deferring on the coin flip. It was a three-and-out, and it was prophetic. “I think the tone kind of gets set by the defensive line, and then everybody can kind of feed off of that,” said coach Chris Petersen.
The Bulldogs were able to convert only 2-of-14 third downs as the Broncos sapped their confidence. On the game’s final play, the Bulldogs ran for a first down, allowing them to finish with one more first down than Boise State had touchdowns (9-8). There were the four turnovers, one of them on a Jamar Taylor interception that was as acrobatic as you’ll see. And there was field position—the Bulldogs reached the red zone only once against the Broncos.
Carr’s numbers improved against Boise State once he had Davante Adams in 2012, but it still resulted in a 20-10 Broncos victory on the blue turf. Carr threw for 266 yards, and Adams caught his only touchdown pass. Finally, as a senior in 2013, Carr exacted his revenge with a lights-out performance in Bulldog Stadium. He was the reason the Bulldogs were able to hold off the Broncos 41-40, riddling them with 460 passing yards and four touchdowns and marching Fresno State 87 yards for the winning score.
(Tom Scott hosts the Scott Slant segment during the football season on KTVB’s Sunday Sports Extra. He also anchors four sports segments each weekday on 95.3 FM KTIK and one on News/Talk KBOI. His Scott Slant column runs every Wednesday.)